WATCH ABOVE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had some strong words while responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Friday.
CALGARY- Mayor Naheed Nenshi called on Calgarians to do more to bring refugees to the city while also blasting the Harper government’s stance on the Syrian refugee crisis Friday.
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“Let’s bring more people to this city,” Nenshi told reporters at City Hall. “This has always been a city of welcome, it’s always been a city of sanctuary, and I’d like to see even more of that happening. We’ll do what we can at the City of Calgary to help with that.”
The mayor encouraged Calgarians to reach out to organizations like Lifeline Syria and the Mennonite Central Committee who are working to sponsor refugees.
Nenshi also criticized the federal government and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s handling of the crisis.
“The talking points of if only we defeat ISIS then this problem will go away is not resonating with people,” said the mayor. “Has the refugee crisis gotten better since we started the airstrikes? No one is saying you bring in the refugees and that solves the whole problem. We have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of desperate people and we have a country that’s known as being a safe haven and we have to be able to do that.”
Nenshi also blasted Alexander’s comments in a recent interview with the CBC.
“Saying the media hasn’t covered this enough as if federal government policy should be based on what’s on the cover of Calgary Sun or on Power and Politics every morning is ridiculous,” said the mayor. “And I’d like to have one question answered from him which is how many Syrian refugees are here? The number changes every day and if the minister can’t answer those basic questions… well let’s be blunt here… we used to have a principle called ministerial accountability, that if the bureaucrats in your department aren’t doing a good job, you take responsibility. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that in Canada, maybe we need it back.”
Nenshi said his parents’ story of coming to Canada makes the refugee issue a personal one.
“This summer I went to Africa and I visited my Mum’s hometown and I looked across the lake and I realized if my parents had been born on the other side of that lake, rather than being immigrants in 1971, they would have been refugees in Canada in 1972.”
Nenshi went on to say that throughout Canada’s history, refugees have contributed significantly to the wealth, prosperity, and sense of community in the country.